Do You Live in a 15-minute City?
A life of convenience. Ease. Happiness. Not banging on a steering wheel in bumper-to-bumper peak hour traffic. Isn’t this what we all want? Of course, you want to venture out and discover on weekends and holidays, but day-to-day, you’d like your lifestyle and essential conveniences close by, right?
If you live in a 15-minute city, it’s possible to find all of life’s conveniences within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. You should also be able to ditch your car in exchange for a short walk to work. You can walk to get groceries. You can walk to the doctors. You can walk your kids to school. Walk. Walk. Walk. Better for you and the environment.
Housing in these cities should be affordable enough, so walkable neighbourhoods aren’t just reserved for the wealthy. The 15-minute city has been championed by the mayor of Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo. He’s running for re-election with the idea of making the city a place where everyone can reach their work, home, and any amenity within a 15-minute bike ride.
More recently, it’s been pitched by a global network of cities as a tool for helping urban areas recover from the pandemic—and improve sustainability and health as people start to get more exercise while conducting their day-to-day activities.
It’s no surprise that it’s recently gained traction with COVID lockdowns restricting the distance we could travel. It was essential to contain the spread of the disease, but we actually kind of liked it. All of a sudden, we stopped complaining about a lack of time. Is this what we needed all along?
In many Australian cities, urban sprawl is still a reality. And it’s very much the case in the US too. To address the issue in the US, a tool has been developed to let you map out your services to see just how close your neighbourhood ranks.
The location data platform was developed by Here Technologies – a company that typically makes maps for businesses such as delivery companies that need to route vehicles. They developed it to demonstrate how developers could work with its data.
While the current version maps out amenities like grocery stores, transit stops, and medical care – the company says it might later create an iteration that considers how far residents might have to travel to get to an office.
They wanted to show the contrast in the accessibility between walking and driving, so the map also shows how many services can be accessed by car from an address. As you can imagine, there are a number of communities where you have all of your essential items within a 15-minute drive, but potentially less than one essential location in a 15-minute walk. It’s a way to show that contrast in spatial makeup.
While pockets of cities are walkable now—the map tells you if your own neighbourhood in a city qualifies as a “15-minute city”—it’s possible that more neighbourhoods will move in this direction as cities begin to use it as a framework for urban planning.
In Australia, you can get a walk score for any address. Walk Score measures the walkability of any address using a patented system. For each address, Walk Score analyses hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within a 5-minute walk are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30-minute walk.
Walk Score also measures pedestrian friendliness by analysing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density.
Here’s a little breakdown of the scoring system:
If you’d like to see how your home ranks, visit https://www.walkscore.com
It’s a bit of fun but can also be a great tool when you’re buying a new home. Higher walk scores may be more valuable.